“I suffer from peroxide phobia. Every time I’ve gotten near a blonde woman, something of mine has disappeared. Jobs, boyfriends,… one time an angora sweater leaped right off my body.” ~ Rita Rudner
I’m taking a break. I’ve earned it. 140+ posts into this blog and even I believe a little change-up is in order. I trust you’ll indulge me. 🙂
Did you ever attempt to research something and find not a single, credible source in agreement or several that provide consistently, accurate information? I have a phobia. And it has nothing to do with Halloween looming. But I’ve always been curious about it and decided to learn more about its symptoms, causes and treatments. So I embarked on a (time limited) study of phobias. Here’s a glimpse of what I found.
A phobia is an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of an object or situation that poses little real danger. Unlike the brief anxiety most people feel when they give a speech or take a test, a phobia is long-lasting, causes intense physical and psychological reactions, and can affect your ability to function normally at work or in social settings.
No matter what type of phobia you have, it’s likely to produce the following reactions:
- A feeling of uncontrollable anxiety when you’re exposed to the source of your fear – sitting on an airplane, for instance, or walking into a large party
- The feeling that you must do everything possible to avoid what you fear
- The inability to function normally because of your anxiety
- Often, the knowledge that your fears are unreasonable or exaggerated, but feeling powerless to control them
- In some cases, anxiety just thinking about what you fear
- In children, possibly tantrums, clinging, or crying
An unreasonable fear can be an annoyance but it isn’t considered a phobia unless it seriously disrupts your life. If it does, it is recommended that one seek medical or psychological treatment. Most people can be helped with the right therapy.
Much is still unknown about the actual causes of phobias. There does appear to be a link between your own phobias and the phobias of your parents. Children may learn phobias by observing a family member’s phobic reaction to an object or a situation. Brain chemicals, genetics, and traumatic experiences also appear to influence the development of phobias.
Where the inconsistency presented in my ‘investigation’ was in ranking the most common, Western culture phobias. Each source I read had a different “top ten.” Rather than scientifically weigh or order them, I’ll simply share a partial collection. For those who must know, yes – spiders, snakes and heights often topped many lists.
The Better Known
- Ophidiophobia – snakes
- Arachnophobia – spiders
- Agoraphobia – open spaces where escape might be difficult
- Claustrophobia – closed or constricting spaces or situations
- Acrophobia – heights
- Astraphobia – thunder and lightning
- Aviophobia – airplanes and flying
- Cynophobia – dogs
- Odontophobia – dentists
The Lesser Recognized
- Coulrophobia – clowns
- Nosophobia – having a disease (think: hypochondria)
- Atychiphobia – failure
- Trypanophobia – injecting or needles
- Mysophobia – dirt or germs
- Pyrophobia – fire
- Taphophobia – being buried alive
- Thanatophobia – death
There are more than 50 phobias recognized by the National Institute of Mental Health. And as expected in today’s digital world, Nomophobia – losing one’s cell phone or cellular reception, is becoming more pronounced. Further evidence that phobia’s are irrational fears, even mine!